Walter E. Williams

Pope Benedict shares some of the OECD's goals in their attack on low-tax jurisdictions. To support its welfare state, European nations must have high taxes. Government spending exceeds 50 percent of the GDP in France, Sweden, Germany and Italy. If Europeans, as private citizens and businessmen, relocate, invest or save in other jurisdictions, it means less money is available to be taxed to support their welfare states. The pope expresses the same concern when he says that tax havens reduce tax revenues for the benefit of society as a whole. Survival of an ever-growing welfare state requires an assault on jurisdictional tax competition.

There's a more fundamental question that I'd put to the pope: Should the Roman Catholic Church support the welfare state? Or, put more plainly, should the Church support the use of the coercive powers of government to enable one person to live at the expense of another? Put even more plainly, should the Church support the government's taking the property of one person and giving it to another to whom it doesn't belong? When such an act is done privately, we call it theft.

The pope might say that the welfare state reflects the will of the people. Would that mean the Church interprets God's commandment to Moses "Thou shalt not steal" as not an absolute, but as "Thou shalt not steal unless you got a majority vote in parliament or congress"?

I share Pope Benedict's desire to assist our fellow man in need. But I believe that reaching into one's own pocket to do so is praiseworthy and laudable. Reaching into another's pocket to assist one's fellow man in need is despicable and worthy of condemnation.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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